Well, I’ll be… blowed

The estimable Bomber Bradbury has been wondering why all the climate cranks have gone quiet since the exoneration of Phil Jones and the CRU by a British parliamentary enquiry — and, surprise, has since received something of a challenge from Cameron Slater at his Whale Oil blog. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t go anywhere near Slater’s site, but I did notice that a little while ago he was moved to post this

Is Gareth Renowden a complete twat?

Is he a fraud as well?

Ok what about as deluded as “Quota” Smith?

Oh come that is too harsh for any one surely?

Can we mark believers with a tattoo so when they later claim they didn’t “really” believe they were just trick ing we can kick their lying balls real hard?

Distasteful, I think you’ll agree. Perhaps he has shares in a tattoing business? In any event, he’s earned a riposte. Let’s look at his “challenge” and see if it stands up to scrutiny.

Slater relies on four bits of “evidence” to rebut Bomber’s post: two items from prime climate crank site WattsUpWithThat, and two from Aussie junk scientist Joanne Nova.

The first post from µWatts is a comment from Fred Singer on the House of Commons report. Sadly for Slater, Fred Singer is not a credible witness. He has a 30 year history of working for PR campaigns: for the tobacco business against restrictions on smoking, for industry against action to reduce CFC emissions, and for the last 20 years he has been singing the same old song on climate change. Here’s just one line Slater quotes from Singer:

How can we tell that it’s a white wash? Here are some tell tale signs:

It refers to the e-mails as “stolen”

Well, perhaps that’s because the emails were stolen. The server in question at the University of East Anglia was hacked into at least three times, and the entire email database was downloaded. The released emails were only a selection of what was taken. This was no “leak” by a whistleblower. Even if there was someone inside CRU involved, perhaps passing on passwords or other information, the act of copying the emails was illegal in British law, and would be illegal in most jurisdictions. It was a theft, pure and simple. Singer wants to perpetuate the assiduously created myth of a whistleblower, and help to get the whitewash meme established. Given his track record, he would, wouldn’t he…

Slater’s second item from µWatts is an email selected from the CRU heist, designed to suggest that CRU was taking money from Shell. “Climate Scientists shills for big oil?” is Slater’s question. A shill is someone paid to endorse a product favourably, while pretending to be impartial. That’s a far better description of Fred Singer than Mick Kelly or Mike Hulme. Slater’s intention seems to be to establish some sort of equivalence between oil money funding the denial campaign, and oil money funding university research. The truth is, of course, that Shell considering funding a studentship at the CRU or UEA is somewhat different in intent to Exxon funding a PR campaign against action on carbon emissions. Shell, in common with Exxon and most big oil companies, funds university research in relevant fields. It’s a way of generating good PR and hedging bets against an energy future where carbon has a cost. It’s worth noting that oil companies have been known to fund modelling of past climates because it can give them information about where the conditions for oil formation may have occurred.

Slater’s final two bits of “evidence” centre around Aussie sceptic Joanne Nova‘s remarkable arithmetical skills. Last year she added up every number she could find that might be in any way related to climate research in the USA, and come up with a figure of $79 billion over the last 21 years. This is so much more than the funding from Exxon for climate denial, that it proves the sceptics are the poor down-trodden minority, she claims. Nova’s $79 billion is nonsense, of course, and in a recent opinion piece she contributed to ABC’s The Drum Unleashed, you can detect a little guilt:

The US government spent $79 billion on climate research and technology since 1989 – to be sure, this funding paid for things like satellites and studies, but it’s 3,500 times as much as anything offered to sceptics. [my emphasis]

Nova goes on to complain:

Ultimately the big problem is that there are no grants for scientists to demonstrate that carbon has little effect. There are no Institutes of Natural Climate Change, but plenty that are devoted to UnNatural Forces.

Science is funded to find out how things work, not how we’d like things to work. It’s an immensely competitive field. If there were real chinks in the evidence, they would be attracting huge attention from scientists. But there’s no sign of the Heartland Institute, CEI, the Koch brothers, or the Scaife foundations funding real research. No, they’re happy to let the likes of Monckton and Nova sing the songs of denial, feeding the echo chamber they’ve created (and of which Whale Oil seems so proud to be part). Doubt is their product, and they’ve been very good at selling it.

As the next couple of CRU/email reports arrive, I expect the denial machine to carry on with its whitewash allegations. But it will still only be noise. The laws of physics didn’t change because someone stole a few emails, and it will be those laws and human cupidity that will get us further into trouble. One day, global warming will be undeniable, and I wonder who history will then judge to have been the “twat“?

27 thoughts on “Well, I’ll be… blowed”

  1. it will be interesting to see if he replies. I managed to get myself banned from his site by disagreeing with him. Mind you i did call him a curly haired pratt out of something called frustration. He's surrounded himself with a bunch of fellow travellers that sing from the same hymnsheet. I pointed out once that all he is doing is playing politics with the situation, and not adding anything.

  2. Whaleoil and Bradbury are different sides to the same coin. One is an extreme right wing radical who likes to shake things up from time to time by exposing looney ideas without much supporting evidence. The other is an extreme left wing radical who likes to shake things up from time to time by exposing looney ideas without much supporting evidence. It is what you get on the blogosphere.

    1. But at least Bradbury's comments are reality based. Is that the true definition of balance, you need a fantasy commentator as well as a reality commentator?

  3. Neither are "extreme" (e.g. Slater being a Nat party member), but both very dogmatic. Neither are worth reading for analysis, but the odd scoop is possible.

  4. Just because Mr Slater'is a member of the National Party does not mean the National Party and him are in agreement on everything. I'd suggest many of his opinions are not shared by the mainstream National supporters.

    Mr Bradbury has it in for Capitalism. While not able to articulate much of an alternative beyond some high minded waffle about harnessing the creative elements of capitalism for the greater good he is definately not mainstream. If you could find me a more left wing commentator on the blogosphere in NZ I would be surprised.

    Both are necessary for the functioning of a healthy political system though as they help define the boundaries of debate.

    1. Yes I don't regard Slater as a Nat party hack, but then again I don't read his blog much!

      The endeavour you suggest sounds quite painful and I'll be sure to avoid it!

    2. Slater strikes me as very much on the ACT wing of the National Party, if indeed he is a member of the latter. I wouldn't regard Bomber as extreme left wing, certainly not in a international context. What's interesting though is that on the issue of climate, Bomber's take is firmly rooted in reality — he certainly is no more "alarmist" than I am, for instance — whereas Slater's take is routine ACT-style denial. Politics trumping evidence.

      1. Mr Bradbury thinks he is contributing to the fight against AGW by buying Organic vegetables so I wouldn't say his views are that firmly rooted in reality.

  5. Actually it was your 'estimable' toadie Bradbury who made the challenge to all the climate deniers [Where is Whaleoil? Where is KiwiBlogh? Where is Not PC? No Minister? Cactus Kate etc.] and not the other way around. Whaleoil's reply 'Bomber's Challenge' is on his blog but of course Bomber won't go there "Why should I engage with right wing hate groups?' is his cop out. What will be yours?

    1. The way blog wars *seem* to work is that people post on their own blogs in reply, but don't comment on the actual blog – see anything involving Wishart/Renowden.

      1. Yes that may be the way it happens. Yet on this topic Tumeke received an inordinate amount of comments, [typical responses are 0-3] including from the so called 'deniers'. And there are points on the 'exoneration' of Prof Jones that Bomber conveniently ignores like the so called “inde­pen­dent” inves­ti­ga­tion led by Sir Muir Rus­sell to be in any form impar­tial, given that Rus­sell him­self vehe­mently sup­ports the notion of anthro­pogenic global warm­ing and has con­structed a panel of “experts” that share the same views.

        1. Stephen's right. Ian obviously reads HT, and I certainly keep an eye on his blog (today: Wishart proves the Royal Society wrong… 😉 ), but I've no intention in getting into prolonged debates in comments there. If he wanted to comment here, I'd obviously reply, but any substantive exchange is best kept at post level, in my view.

          1. That's great Gareth. You keep your tight knit, eas­ily led, eas­ily conned yet, gal­lac­ti­cally stu­pid brigade and talk amongst yourselves. What you, Bradbury and others exhibit is symp­to­matic of depen­dency dis­or­der. Or “a need to believe, defend and or depend on a boxed cause in order to exist in a world of con­trol, or the pro­po­nent of control.”

            1. I'll reassign the stupidity to you and your ilk, thanks all the same. Rant all you like about theories, the evidence is there for all but the wilfully stupid to see. And by the way, it's spelt "galactically".

              As for Slater – his surname is a wonderful example of nominative determinism.

  6. if we're comparing costs of money to research, i remind people of the efforts by Richard Black of the BBC to find examples where sceptics were refused funding for research proposals. He found none, despite emailing a list of 61 sceptics.

    Perhaps a more interesting comparison might be with the money governments pour into subsidising the fossil fuel industry? now we're talking big money. Twice as much as for renewables in the US over 2002-08

      1. I saw something in The Economist – one of the best descriptions of the crank debate:

        "In any complex scientific picture of the world there will be gaps, misperceptions and mistakes. Whether your impression is dominated by the whole or the holes will depend on your attitude to the project at hand. You might say that some see a jigsaw where others see a house of cards. Jigsaw types have in mind an overall picture and are open to bits being taken out, moved around or abandoned should they not fit. Those who see houses of cards think that if any piece is removed, the whole lot falls down. When it comes to climate, academic scientists are jigsaw types, dissenters from their view house-of-cards-ists."

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